A Jefferson Parish jury deliberated just over one hour Thursday night (June 15), rejecting a Marrero man’s insanity defense and convicting him as charged of murdering his supervisor at their workplace in Kenner.
John Spears, 52, faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison for fatally shooting Anthony Tardo, 49, of Mandeville, on Dec. 4, 2015.
About 3:30 p.m., employees at Houston Marine Training Services, in the 2500 block of Williams Boulevard, heard Tardo yell “What the f—?” and then heard a gunshot. Spears stood in the entrance to Tardo’s office and fired one .40-caliber bullet into his boss’s chest. Tardo died in about a minute.
Spears calmly told his coworkers to call 911. He then walked out front door into the parking lot, where he ejected the magazine from his pistol and placed it atop his car. He waited for the Kenner Police Department to arrive.
Spears pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity. His attorneys argued that he has a history of mental illness and that he suffered a delusional psychotic episode when he shot Tardo. Spears further asserted he blacked out
Spears and Tardo had been co-workers about 1 ½ years before the homicide. Tardo, a husband and father, was the site supervisor at the Kenner Houston Marine location, which assisted people in obtaining licenses to work offshore industries. Spears was an instructor in dynamic positioning, using a simulator to train students in keeping a vessel afloat stable.
After killing Tardo, Spears declined to give detectives a statement in explaining why he shot his supervisor. However, in phone calls he made to his wife from the parish jail, he accused Tardo of repeatedly “aggravating” him. He also asked his wife to find his medical records to support his contention of mental illness. Jurors heard recordings of those phone calls.
One co-worker told detectives that he and Spears crossed paths at the business earlier that day, and that Spears mentioned he was going to shoot co-workers. The co-worker thought Spears was joking. Otherwise, none of the employees noted anything overtly amiss between Spears and Tardo.
The jury of eight women and four men delivered its verdict about 9:15 p.m., Thursday. Judge June Berry Darensburg of the 24th Judicial District is scheduled to sentence Spears on July 24.
Assistant District Attorneys Joshua Vanderhooft and Rhonda Goode-Douglas prosecuted the case.